I must confess I meant to write this a bit earlier during the perfect storm of Budget Season. I couldn't work up the stomach to do so until
I Saw It Again
As someone that was awarded an A in killing people, as well as someone that knows a whole heck of a lot of brave firefighters, I feel as though I can unequivocally say that, yes, we are in the same company as the Army and the Fire Department when it comes down to budget time.
"Why?" you ask. Perhaps "That's absurd!" you posit.
Nuh uh. Libraries at budget time are Monty Python's Black Knight. We declare loudly and proudly that we'll muddle through with our chins up, since it's merely a flesh wound. After all, everyone is being cut. Right?
Wrong. Very wrong.
I suspect that it's safe to put forth that more often than not the Library bears the brunt of the kick to the teeth, where other departments get a close shave and won't enjoy the stacks and stacks of canary copy paper this year. We're just a "quality of life" department, right?
Wrong. Very wrong.
And why do we line up for our kick in the teeth, our one cross each on the line on the left? Simply because we are terrible advocates. Throughout the year, we're awful at recording our best interactions. How many of us religiously escalate that Patron who sings our praises to town administration? No one is going to help us unless we ask for help. No one is going to want to award us budget money if it's a one man band.
Duhrectors set your Patrons, Staff, and Board upon town administration like Montgomery Burns' hounds.
I am dead serious. Every time I see one of those anti intellectual censorious policies proclaiming that only the divine Duhrector ought speak about budget matters, I want to take a ruler to the back of those divine hands like Sister Mary Joseph. You are begging, yes BEGGING, for a budget cut when the folks that control the pursestrings see only you once per year at budget time.
This is true in especial when we bring them The Charts.
Again, I want to take a ruler to the folks that show circulation charts at budget time. Numbers do not tell the story, they are for the appendix. The STORY tells the story. Tell them about the waves upon waves of unemployed that you help through the innavigable straights of the State website. Tell them about the dozens of Patrons you've helped file a FAFSA with. Tell them about the emergency assistance we gave during the last natural disaster. Tell them about the small businesses we've helped incorporate.
And better than that send the people you've helped to the Town Administration if they say the magic words. And many of them will say these, or something like them.
"How can I ever repay you?"
That is your cue to say "Actually, it would very much help if you went to so and so / the budget meeting and related that we were valuable to you as a taxpayer since we won't have the money to keep our doors open this coming year as we did last year."
Be honest with yourself - did your way work last time? We needs capitalise off of the wonderful relationships we've built, in especial when we need those relationships the most.
For heaven's sake, don't go it alone at budget time.